With announcement of additional seats in the House of Commons for Ontario (15), British Columbia (6) and Alberta (6), the South Asian population is hopeful of sending some more Member Parliaments in the Canadian Parliament in the next elections as many of these new seats would fall in South Asian
dominated areas. The government aims to move every province towards representation by population in the House of Commons. Ontario’s population grew from 11.41 million in the 2001 census to 12.85 million in the 2011 census.
Many of the South Asians ridings (constituencies) with heavy population were under represented in terms of population as compared to other ridings. Take the example of Brampton West riding (largely dominated by Indians, especially Punjabis).It is the most populous riding in Canada that is more than four times the size of small ridings in Canada.
The Brampton-Mississauga region in Ontario and Surrey-Vancouver in British Columbia have very high concentration of South Asian population but they were not properly represented in the Parliament due to very high population and the vast area of these ridings, so these areas are surely to get additional seats. While the average riding size in provinces like Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia is around 70,000 people and in Prince Edward Island it is just over 30,000, in Ontario it is about 120,000.
A voter in one of these more populous ridings in other words, counts for less than a voter in a less populated riding. For instance the 94,417 eligible voters in Ontario’s Brampton riding had the right to elect one member of Parliament and the same representation is enjoyed by the 57,556 eligible voters in Newfoundland riding of Random-Burin-St George’s and the analysts feel this was very unfair.
The ridings in the Greater Toronto Area that are home to most South Asians are by far the largest in country. In fact, the six largest riding in the country, with populations of 1,50,000-170000 are all in the GTA.
In addition to being the most populous riding in the country, most of the Brampton, Mississauga ridings are among the most diverse, with more new Canadians and visible minorities. In practice this means, voters living in these very populous riding have less say on who forms the government. The new distribution of seats is expected to correct this.
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario says public hearings will be held this fall on the proposed new electoral map. The commission proposed that Brampton, Durham, Markham and Toronto each get two additional seats and there will be one added to Cambridge, Hamilton, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Simcoe and York.
In Toronto, the commission has recommended that the current Scarborough-Rouge River riding in the northeast part of the city be divided into two ridings, becoming Scarborough North and Scarborough East. The city should also get a new downtown riding, according to the commission.
The public hearings are scheduled across the province in October and November and the new seats are expected to be up for grabs in the next elections.